For the past 15 years, I've organized ESL family engagement meetings at the elementary school level and all I had to do was send home an invitation and parents would show up!
Now that I am at a high school level I realize that the process and approach has to be different for family engagement nights.
So, I came to a firm understanding that in order to successfully support our students at the HS level, a group effort is a must. What I mean is, it is imperative to create a culture of opportunities and a sense of collaboration among staff so our families and students are supported and successful.
Culture of Collaboration and Responsibilities
In order to ensure success for our students and to encourage our ESL families to engage and participate in school events, our staff must have a strong sense of community and shared responsibility. As an ESL teacher, I feel very strongly about the need to have our ESL families' help in making sure that our students (especially ELs) have the support they need to be successful. Therefore, I invited several school staff members to team up with me in planning and implementing our very first ESL family engagement night.
Our form of communication was through email and we maintained a constant communication with all the details.
The perfect team to implement our first meeting consisted of our Spanish teacher (Ms. Perdomo), our ELA teacher (Ms. Armstrong), our bilingual secretary (Rina Rodriguez), our guidance counselors ( Mrs. Foster and Stacey Diaz), and admin (Dr. A).
Three of us (bilingual ones) called ALL our ESL parents and personally invited them to attend. We called them with about 2-3 weeks in advance. We also provided the opportunity to attend to either one of two sessions offered. Both sessions followed the same format.
We also sent home this form as a reminder.
ESL Parent Meeting Format
We didn't want this meeting to be a type of sit and get without engagement, so we provided our information in centers. We also wanted to model how we strive as teachers to have our students collaborate and work in groups with their peers. Also, being in small groups provides a more comfortable setting for parents to ask questions and engage without fear.
We started all together and received a welcome from all of staff who was present. I explained the format of the meeting and parents were divided into groups to begin learning.
The groups and information provided were as follows:
Parents spent about 15 minutes at each center and rotated to another center until they had been to all three.
Our principal was there in the room with us to answer questions and engage with our parents as well. Our ELA teacher, Ms. Armstrong, was present and greeted our families and also helped answer any questions regarding class grades or content questions.
Stacey Diaz, our county's ESL guidance counselor was with us during our first session and was able to share valuable information with our families too.
We also had a representative from a local community organization called "El Puente Hispano" who provided our families with all the available support they have for students and parents.
"As a community with shared responsibility for all learners in the school, school-based practitioners can collectively move their school forward to ensure an equitable, high-quality education for English learners and can create a responsive school for their parents and guardians." - #TESOL6ps
I must say that without the sense of collaboration and responsibility from everyone who helped - this 1st awesome meeting with our ESL families would have not been as successful as it was.
Our parents were very grateful for all the information we provided and were also happy to create connections with other parents in our school.
If you are having successful ESL parent meetings at the HS level, please share your experience with us! We'd love to continue what we started and the more ideas we have the better!!
Thank you for reading!
On October 22nd, 2018 - I had the privilege to be featured on DisruptED TV Teacher Sparks. Host, Michele Hill , (a passionate educator who by the way I admire), invited me to not only share my immigrant story but also share what I am currently doing for my students and their families.
We had a great conversation around the elements and ways we need in our schools and classrooms to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for diverse students. Cultural responsiveness is definitely a topic we both feel very strong about so it became core for our conversation.
Check out the video and let me know if you have any comments and/or questions!
Thank you for reading and watching the video!!